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GMOs: Environmental and Health Concerns

New GMO Graphic Enviromental

The third in the blog series GMOs: What’s the Big Deal? by Oh Baby Foods Mother & Founder, Fran B. Free

In continuing with our blog series on GMOs, I aim to gather insight into the little acronym and why it evokes strong feelings (of something) for just about everyone. Again, some believe GMOs are harmless and necessary, others believe they are unsafe, unproven, and find the act of messing with DNA terrifying.

In last week’s post, I ran through the basics of The What, The How, and The Why GMO’s exist. I’m here again this week, and this time to discuss environmental and health concerns of biotech (GMO).

Environmental Concerns:
Having a degree in Environmental Soil and Water Science, it would be too facile to say here that many of my personal anxieties with GMO point to environmental. My main environmental uneasiness is that (1) not only are GMOs failing to meet their goals, but are actually augmenting the very issues they set out to address, and (2) …well, GMOs are very much unknown.

INSUFFICIENT DATA
Not only is this technology new, but the data is largely non-existent or “protected” due to the fact that (1) risk assessments and subsequent results for a new GMO approval is conducted and provided by the company seeking the approval, and (2) due to current intellectual property laws, research rights on these products are reserved for the owner of that patent. Next week’s blog post is focused on these two points and the political landscape, so I won’t spend much time on that here.

SUPERWEEDS
I’m not sure who coined this phrase; it’s not my favorite, but it is accurate. Weeds that are target pests have evolved to become resistant and highly unmanageable. Glyphosate-resistant crops (i.e. “Roundup Ready” varieties) are GMO plants that are modified to enable them to live through an application of Roundup, but the weeds growing next to them in the field should not. Back when glyphosate-resistant crops were a new technology, those weeds did die. But today, they are not only surviving, they’re flourishing. They are flourishing in the fields and they’re flourishing in non-farm settings, and they can’t be killed as easily as they used to be. You know how we’re warned to only use antibiotics when our kids really need them, that an overuse could lead to a “super bug” that will one day not respond to antibiotics? Well, that’s what we have here today.

INCREASED USE of PESTICIDES
One of the very first touted benefits of GMOs was (and still is) “decreased use of pesticides,” but ag studies are now showing the complete opposite. In fact, with many GMOs (cotton, corn, and soybeans, for example), farmers are increasing their herbicide use by up to 25% annually (Benbrook) on GMO crops. In addition, farmers are turning to older, more toxic pesticides to pick up where Roundup can’t do the job any longer. Much of that has to do with the “superweeds” that we just discussed.


Health Concerns:
Without a control group and laboratory tests on humans, we really don’t know the effects that GMOs are having and will have on our bodies. There have been laboratory tests conducted on rats showing infertility, immune system and insulin regulation issues, and distressed gastrointestinal systems, among others. Farm animals that have grazed on GMO crops have experienced extreme health complications and even fatality. I cannot personally vouch for any of these tests or claims, and I continue to search for sound science. Please share with me reputable sources if you have them!

NEW ALLERGENS
Having a gluten sensitivity and spending my creative time developing new Oh Baby Foods products for a wide audience, allergies are very often on my mind. So, when I think about the case of a gene from a Brazil nut being transferred into soybean DNA and causing an allergic reaction, I cringe…and I’m also thankful. This 1996 study led to the cancellation of a GMO project who’s goal was to take to market a nutritionally superior soybean, and in the testing process, a positive allergic reaction was found, which led to the absolute acknowledgement that GMOs can transfer allergenic proteins into crops. Knowing this last point is exactly what startles me and affirms my stance on not GMOs in baby food.

What health concerns concern you? Please share your thoughts. And come back next week when we look at the political landscape of GMOs.

Topics for GMOs: What’s the Big Deal? Blog series, every Friday this October:
Friday 10/3/2014     GMOs: It’s Personal
Friday 10/10/2014   GMOs: The What, the How, the Why
Friday 10/17/2014   GMOs: Environmental & Health Concerns
Friday 10/24/2014   GMOs: Political Landscape
Friday 10/31/2014   GMO Field Trip: Let’s follow the life of a GMO

Until next Friday,
Fran B. Free

 

Sources:

Benbrook, D. (2012, September 28). Impacts of genetically engineered crops on pesticide use in the U.S. — the first sixteen years. Retrieved October 16, 2014, from http://www.enveurope.com/content/24/1/24

Genetic Engineering in Agriculture. (n.d.). Retrieved October 16, 2014, from http://www.ucsusa.org/our-work/food-agriculture/our-failing-food-system/genetic-engineering-agriculture#.VEDo7CldUm8

Genetically modified food controversies. (n.d.). Retrieved October 15, 2014, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetically_modified_food_controversies

 

 

 

GMOs: The What, The How, The Why

 

GMOs The What, The How, The Why

The second in the blog series GMOs: What’s the Big Deal? by Oh Baby Foods Mother & Founder, Fran B. Free

In continuing with our blog series on GMOs, I aim to gather insight into the little acronym and why it evokes strong feelings (of something) for just about everyone. Again, some believe GMOs are harmless and necessary, others believe they are unsafe, unproven, and find the act of messing with DNA terrifying.

In last week’s post, I explained the reasons that Oh Baby Foods products do not contain GMO’s, and why I do not personally support them. I’m here again this week, and this time to run through the basics of what, how, why GMO’s exist.

The What
A GMO (genetically modified organism) is the result of a laboratory process where genes from the DNA of one species are extracted and artificially forced into the genes of an unrelated plant or animal.

“But wait,” you say. “My grandpa used to save seed from his favorite garden plants and then cross breed them to make his tomatoes more drought resistant or less susceptible to fungus. So, this GMO thing has been around for a while?”

No, it hasn’t. This is completely different from conventional breeding that we humans have been doing for thousands of years. This GMO thing only begun in 1996. We’re not only talking about joining DNA of two different species, we’re talking about joining DNA from different kingdoms. These are two beings that would never ever join or reproduce in nature. Ever.

The How
So, how would one go about joining two beings from different kingdoms…such as a fish and a tomato? (Side note: just to keep you on the edge of your seat, we’ll closely follow one example in detail during our last blog post this month.)

Now, put on your scientist coat and your chef hat. There are basically three ingredients to any GMO recipe: (1) the gene with desirable traits (to be transferred), (2) the organism to put the gene into (target species), and (3) a vector to carry the gene into the target species’ cells.

Once you isolate and gather up those three ingredients, you’re ready to introduce them following these steps:

–  Make several copies of your isolated gene
–  Transfer the desired genes to the plant’s own genes {You’ve got three options for insertion (or transformation): (1) use a ‘gene canon’, (2) a soil bacteria, or (3) a material called protoplast.}
– Create a new plant from the genetically modified plant tissue
– Check that the inserted genes function as expected
– Check that the inserted gene appears in the plant’s progeny (seeds)

And that’s it. Simple. You’ve just created a brand new being. Congrats! We’ll learn how to get it approved for use via our part 4 blog post in this series GMOs: Political Landscape.

The Why:
The following is from Anastasia Bondar’s blog series entitled “The Promise of GMOs.” I highly recommend reading through this to learn her opinion on which of the promises have been delivered and which ones have not. She recites the following excerpt from the BIO (Biotechnology Industry Organization) report, Healing, Fueling, Feeding: How Biotechnology Is Enriching Your Life:

Biotech (GMO) improves crop insect resistance, enhances crop herbicide tolerance and facilitates the use of more environmentally sustainable farming practices. Biotech is helping to feed the world by:

  • Generating higher crop yields with fewer inputs;
  • Lowering volumes of agricultural chemicals required by crops-limiting the run-off of these products into the environment;
  • Using biotech crops that need fewer applications of pesticides and that allow farmers to reduce tilling farmland;
  • Developing crops with enhanced nutrition profiles that solve vitamin and nutrient deficiencies;
  • Producing foods free of allergens and toxins such as mycotoxin; and
  • Improving food and crop oil content to help improve cardiovascular health.

Those are some big promises from a very young technology. Again, read through Anastasia’s blog to see how GMOs have delivered.

Topics for GMOs: What’s the Big Deal? blog series, every Friday this October:
Friday 10/3/2014        GMOs: It’s Personal
Friday 10/10/2014      GMOs: The What, the How, the Why
Friday 10/17/2014      GMOs: Environmental & Health Concerns
Friday 10/24/2014      GMOs: Political Landscape
Friday 10/31/2014      GMO Field Trip: Let’s follow the life of a GMO

Until next Friday,
Fran B. Free

Sources:
GMO Education. (n.d.). Retrieved October 8, 2014. http://www.responsibletechnology.org/gmo-education

Diaz, J., & Fridovich-Keil, J. (n.d.). Genetically Modified Organism (GMO). Retrieved October 8, 2014, from http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/897705/genetically-modified-organism-GMO

How are GMOs Made? (n.d.). Retrieved October 8, 2014, from http://archive.hudsonalpha.org/education/kits/gmod/gmos-made
How is it done? (n.d.). Retrieved October 7, 2014, from http://www.bionetonline.org/english/content/ff_tool.htm
Bodner, A. (2014, February 17). The Promise of GMOs. Retrieved October 9, 2014, from http://www.biofortified.org/2014/02/promise-of-gmos/
Healing, Fueling, Feeding: How Biotechnology Is Enriching Your Life. (n.d.). Bio Technology Industry Organization.

GMOs: What’s the Big Deal? Part One: It’s Personal

 

GMOs It's Personal

GMOs: It’s Personal.

The first in the blog series GMOs: What’s the Big Deal? by Oh Baby Foods Mother & Founder, Fran B. Free

Okay, so this tiny little acronym: “GMO.” You hear it mucho these days. It’s kinda big, right? You’re seeing The NonGMO Project symbol pop up on your fave snack brands lately. It’s a cute logo, with a butterfly and all. BUT, what the heck does it mean and how is it able to tug on the heartstrings of so many people? Some believe GMOs are harmless and necessary, others believe they are unsafe, unproven, and find the act of messing with DNA terrifying.

Being raised on a conventional farm, having two degrees in agriculture, and starting an organic baby food company, I can tell you that I am built on two (strongly) opposing views.

Starting a business of any kind is not without IMMENSE challenges and opportunities. One opportunity I have grasped with enthusiasm is being able to establish the core values of Oh Baby Foods to reflect the foundation of what I personally believe. This company is, by proxy, an extension of myself.

On that note, Oh Baby Foods became the very first baby food company in the world to Verify all of our products via The NonGMO Project. Right out of the gate, I personally drew a line in the sand. Yep, it’s personal.

Our products do not contain GMOs, and here’s why:

  • GMOs are too new to mess around with, not only for consuming, but also to present to    our natural environment,
  • I’m not yet convinced that GMOs will meet the stated goals of 
    • alleviating global hunger/malnutrition issues
    • increasing efficiency in agriculture, by immediate timing and decreased pesticide applications,
  • Babies and their immune systems are especially susceptible to unhealthy and foreign factors AND they are the ones that will inherit the world that we take care of today.

Writing is not in my job description as Mother & Founder at Oh Baby Foods. But every once in a while, I get a little chance to explore and express myself in word. In honor of NonGMO Month, I’ll be posting a new blog post each Friday in October.

This has been a goal of mine for a few years, so don’t hold back a “congrats” if you’re so inspired. I appreciate your thoughts, and encourage discussion.

Topics for GMOs: What’s the Big Deal? blog series, every Friday this October:
Friday 10/3/2014        GMOs: It’s Personal
Friday 10/10/2014      GMOs: The What, the How, the Why
Friday 10/17/2014      GMOs: Environmental & Health Concerns
Friday 10/24/2014      GMOs: Political Landscape
Friday 10/31/2014      GMO Field Trip: Let’s follow the life of a GMO

Until next Friday,
Fran B. Free

 

Sources:

WHAT IS GMO? Agricultural Crops That Have a Risk of Being GMO. (n.d.). Retrieved October 1, 2014, from http://www.nongmoproject.org/learn-more/what-is-gmo/

JALONICK, M. (2014, May 9). What Is A GMO? Genetically Modified Foods Continue To Confuse Consumers. Retrieved October 1, 2014, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/09/what-is-a-gmo_n_5295997.html

Heit, J. (2012, July 12). Genetically Engineered Foods. Retrieved October 1, 2014, from http://umm.edu/health/medical/ency/articles/genetically-engineered-foods

What are GMOs all about? – Golden Rice. (n.d.). Retrieved October 2, 2014, from http://goldenrice2.weebly.com/what-are-gmos-all-about.html

Oh Baby Foods from A Specialist’s Point of View

I waited, like all good parents, to introduce my baby to solids until he was 6 months old.  His first bite of food was fresh avocado (organic, of course).  I only want the best for my child.  That’s one of the many reasons I love Oh Baby Foods.  It is organic, non-GMO, & grown in the U.S.

There is another reason I love Oh Baby Foods; the packaging.  As a speech language pathologist, I specialize in infant & childhood feeding disorders.  I work with kids every day that have trouble progressing to solid food & food with texture.  I also work on cup drinking skills, which are very important to oral motor development.

What most parents don’t realize is, following the breast or bottle, your baby can go straight to straw drinking or open cup.  With the new packaging of baby food, teaching straw drinking is easier than ever   Wrapping their little lips & tongue around the spout of the baby food pouch, helps babies learn quickly that sucking produces tasty results.  The sippy cup was initially created for parents’ convenience.There are plenty of straw cups & sports bottles out there as well that will produce the same no-spill results.  Sippy cup spouts promote an infantile front-to-back tongue movement, whereas straw cups promote a more wave-like pattern of the tongue that is more adult.  My son was never given an option to drink from a sippy cup spout.  I started, at 6 months, dipping the straw in water , covering the top of the straw with my finger & releasing the liquid as he began to suck.  By 7 months, he was able to suck from a straw straight from the cup.

The style of packaging also promotes greater independence of feeding.  My son can eat his food anywhere he might be & doesn’t have to depend on me to feed it to him.  He can eat in his carseat, his stroller, the grocery cart, or his high chair.  He is able to feed himself long before he is able to pick up little bite-sized toddler foods!  Great news for a busy mama!

Landry Edited

All in all, would I recommend Oh Baby Foods to my friends?  Absolutely! So would my son!

Stephanie Hall Headshot

Stephanie Hall is the owner of Kids SPOT Pediatric Therapies in Springdale. With over 13 years’ experience, she specializes in infant and childhood feeding disorders. Other interests include autism, Spanish language delay, and NICU discharges. Kids SPOT serves the community of Springdale by offering speech, physical, and occupational therapies. Stephanie Latiolais Hall, MA, CCC-SLP

The Most Important Thing We’ll Ever Do

oh baby foods, parenting

It’s a Wednesday morning. For me, this is a day I don’t go into the office to work.  My oldest (daughter) is at school (kindergarten) & my youngest (3, my son) is home with me.  After getting her ready and off to school, my son & I are back at the house.

What I’m thinking:

” I have so much to do.  I could do laundry, declutter, clean, work on my personal blog, work on the wedding I’m planning for a family member…”

What’s he’s thinking:

“Yay!  I have mom all to myself!  We can play together ALL DAY!!

What usually happens:

“Just a minute.”  “After I finish what I’m doing.”  “Go play.”  “Stop bugging me!”

In a good moment, I stop everything & get on the floor to play with him in his room. It’s usually cars.

I remember being so excited that, now that my daughter was going to be in school, I was going to have all this one on one time with my son.  We have almost never been by ourselves & now, here we are & I’m squandering it.   I don’t want to give my children my leftovers, but I often feel pulled into several directions.  I get pretty tired these days & that makes me lazy.  Do you relate this this at all?

I am re-prioritizing.  I am choosing to more present.  I will put down my phone, my tablet/laptop/whatever & look into the face of my children.

I do not want to regret later what I could have given them now – a mother than who invests & delights in her children.

 

fist day pre-k, printable

First Day of Pre-K Printable

Today was my son’s first day of pre-k.

 

It was a big day because it signified a somewhat end to my status as a stay-at-home-mom.  I’m still a stay-at-home-mom, but now, my oldest is in kindergarten & my youngest is in pre-k twice per week.  So, now, I am a partly or mostly stay-at-home-mom.  It’s different.  Things are changing.

first day pre-k, printable, oh baby foods

I have to say, drop off could not have gone better.  He was happy to stay there. No tears, no clinging to mommy.  It feels good to know he’s got this.  He is getting some independence (as is his sister) & you know, so am I! These past 5 years of staying home and taking care of these sweethearts has been a privilege & a joy (also tiring & stressful & CRAZY, but that’s another post for another day.).  It is unreal how fast the times flies – so cliche, but dead-on nonetheless.

Can you relate?  I want to share this printable I made if you have a little one just starting pre-K; for you to use free of charge.

first day pre-k, printable, oh baby foods

If you end up using it, post it to our Facebook page, so we can enjoy your sweet pics!

Basil Babe Smoothie

This month we had a recipe contest.  We asked our Facebook followers to come up with a recipe that toddlers would enjoy using our Basil Babe purée.  The winner was Amy Blount of Houston, TX!

Amy Blount

Her recipe was a smoothie.

Basil Babe Smoothie:

1 c. almond milk, chilled
1 container vanilla goats milk yogurt
1 pouch Oh Baby Foods Basil Babe purée
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
Handful of ice
Pulse in blender.

Basil babe & finsihed smoothie

Enjoy!!

*Amy won a case of our purées for her efforts

Tips for Picky Eaters

Tips for Picky Eaters
If you have a toddler, then you are probably familiar with picky eating.  It can be challenging to be patient as they become acquainted with new foods.  Often, they will love something one day & hate it the next.  Sometimes it can get pretty frustrating trying to figure out the best approach!  So, we wanted to offer just a few helpful hints for your picky eater:

1)  Often they have to try something multiple times before they are used to the texture, taste & smell to decide if they really like it.  So, don’t give up.  If they don’t like something, wait a week & try again! Per KevinMD.com, “Your child may need to try a new food 10-15 times before he is willing to eat it.”

2)  Some people have had success using a child’s stuffed animal as a model.  Model trying out new foods with the child’s toy before getting your child to actually try it.

3)  Another tip is offering your child several different options at mealtime.  You may have noticed some moms have been using an ice cube tray with different baby or toddler safe foods in each slot.

4)  Try giving just a small amount of a new or disliked food.  Give them one bite & see if they ask you for more.

5)  Engage your child in the process, “Which one was your favorite?”  “Today you ate all of the carrots.  Were they yummy?”

6)  For toddlers, the more things they can pick up & feed themselves without utensils, the better.  This allows them to take ownership of their eating.

7)  Allow your kiddos to help you pick out the fruits & vegetables at the grocery store.  Then the items feel more like what they are choosing & maybe you can avoid a battle of the wills!

8)  I will close with this:

They’ll be more open when they’re truly hungry.

Meanwhile, chin up!  Per WedMD, Kids usually outgrow their extra picky behavior by 4 or 5.